Meal Service Market in Japan: Key Research Findings 2022
Meal Service Market Grew to 104.0% YoY for FY2021 with Meal Service for Elderly Facilities, School Meals, and Kindergarten/Childcare Center Meals on Track for Recovery
Yano Research Institute (the President, Takashi Mizukoshi) has researched on the meal service market and has found out the market trends by category (6 categories), the trends of market players, and the future perspective.
Social changes led by the spread of the novel coronavirus infection since early spring 2020, including increase of voluntary staying home, telework, and temporary closures of schools, kindergartens, and childcare centers, have impacted the meal service market severely. The market size for FY2020 declined sharply to 89.7% of the preceding fiscal year to 4,339,500 million yen (as a total of 6 categories, based on the sales at businesses). As the government lifted restrictions in FY2021, flow of people returned gradually, and the meal service market recovered to 104.0% of the previous fiscal year to 4,514,000 million yen. Still, size-wise, the market has not recovered to the pre-pandemic level.
Impact of COVID-19 Crisis and Measures to Adapt to “With Corona” Situation
Meal service companies are doing everything they can to overcome the difficulties they faced due to the COVID-19 crisis. Meanwhile, the pandemic also presented new opportunities to the meal services: for one, it increased the demand for frozen bento as emergency foods; for another, it shrank recruitments in dining and food manufacturing industry, making it easier for the meal service industry to hire nutritionists and cooks.
While no one knows when the pandemic will end, meal service companies are redirecting their business practices to adapt to “With Corona” situation, such as by acquiring new customers through lead generation, expanding business opportunities by new product development, streamlining operations by reallocating human resources, securing/retaining human resources by promoting work-style reform, and achieving SDGs by reduction of food losses.
Although the pandemic seems endless, the meal service market is making an upward turn, and it is forecasted to grow to 102.3% on year-on-year basis to 4,618,900 million yen for FY2022 (as a total of 6 categories). Even so, there is no prospect of returning to the pre-pandemic level in terms of market size.
Under the assumption that the COVID-19 crisis will end in the next year or two, the size of the meal service market is expected to grow to 4,766,900 million yen by FY2026, which is almost equivalent to the market size for FY2017. In detail, expansion is anticipated for bento delivery service, meal service for elderly facilities, school meals, and kindergarten/childcare center meals due to the increase of the number of facilities/persons admitted and rising trend of outsourcing. On the other hand, office on-site cooking service is expected to stay at almost the same level as the preceding years and meal service for hospitals anticipates decline. The market size of meal service for elderly facilities, where persons admitted are increasing, is projected to surpass the size of meal service for hospitals, where the number of hospital beds continues to diminish.
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